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A voyage round the world, in the years 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803 and 1804

Date: 1810
Overall: 177 x 111 x 28 mm, 313 g
Medium: Paper, ink, contemporary calf, covered board, gilt
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00033917
Place Manufactured:Philadelphia

User Terms

    This book - A voyage round the world, in the years 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803 and 1804; in which the author visited the principle islands in the Pacific Ocean, and the English Settlements of Port Jackson and Norfolk Islands - is an account of the trading voyage of the brig MARGARET, of which the author John Turnbull was part owner.

    It provides detailed observations on Cape Town, Port Jackson - including information in the convict transport system and the local Aboriginal people - Norfolk Island, Tahiti, Huaheine, Ulitea, Sandwich Islands, Eimeo, the Friendly Islands (Tonga), the loss of the ship on a coral reef in Tahiti, and the activities of the missionaries in the Pacific.
    SignificanceJohn Turnbull's remarkable narrative was the first published account to describe New South Wales and Australia from a commercial point of view, and was an important indication of the potential of the region for future expansion and trade. It is also one of the earliest narratives to describe Australia as a potential field for private commercial endeavour and emigration.

    Turnbull and Co's ship MARGARET was also the third vessel to pass through Bass Strait - becoming the first vessel to sight King Island in doing so - and provided the Colonial Government the viability of this route for all future shipping between Europe and Port Jackson.
    HistoryIn May 1800 John Turnbull - one of the owners of the English shipping company Turnbull and Co - left England on a speculative commercial voyage to the South Seas in the company's brig MARGARET.

    In the preface to his published journal of the voyage, Turnbull outlines the purpose of the voyage:

    Whilst second officer of the BARWELL, in her last voyage to China, in the year 1799, the first officer [Bowyers] of that last ship and myself [Turnbull], had every reason to suppose from our own actual observations, that the Americans carried on a most lucrative trade to the north-west of that vast continent. Strongly impressed with this persuasion, we resolved on our return home to represent it to some gentlemen of well known mercantile enterprise. They approved of the speculation, and lost no time in preparing for its execution.

    The vessel chosen by Turnbull and his partners was the 121 ton, single deck, two masted, wooden brig MARGARET. A brand new vessel fresh from the stocks of Trail & Co. Registered in London, the brig rated A1 at Lloyd's, was armed with ten guns and carried a crew of 15 (or 28) men. The officer chosen to captain the ship was the former First Officer of the East Indiaman BARWELL, John Bowyers (or Bowes, Buyers).

    Having obtained permission from the East India Company - the trading company which controlled all trades east of the Cape of Good Hope - the vessel left England travelling down the Channel in convoy (England was at war with France at the time) with the East India Company fleet.

    The MARGARET stopped over at Madeira, St Salvadore, Brazil (for repairs) and the Cape of Good Hope before arriving at Botany Bay via Bass Strait (the third ship to attempt this passage and the first vessel to sight King Island) on 7 February 1801.

    Upon the vessel's arrival Turnbull notes that the harbour appeared to be full of ships including the government ship's PORPOISE and LADY NELSON, the ROYAL ADMIRAL, the TRIMMER and the HARBINGER the last three vessels being trading vessels on the same type of speculative venture as the MARGARET. This proved the case with Turnbull noting:

    We did not see them with much satisfaction, having every reason to believe that a market never very extensive must now be glutted to the full... we had moreover the mortification to learn, that the colony was almost wholly exhausted of the grand pursuit of all adventurers... money.

    The MARGARET was lucky enough to be able to dispose of some 3,000 gallons of spirits and 700 gallons of wine at 6 shillings per gallon on the government account. Owing to the glut of material at Port Jackson, Turnbull decided to stay in the colony while the MARGARET went across the Pacific to the north west coast of America to dispose of the rest of the cargo. During his six month stay in the colony Turnbull recorded details on the population of the town, general character of the settlers, civil government, political parties, taxes, terms of trade, defence, wages, Norfolk Island and the local Aboriginal people.

    The MARGARET returned to Port Jackson on 18 February 1802 after a successful voyage to North and South America where they had disposed of some of their cargo. On 5 June 1802 Turnbull reboarded the MARGARET and continued his speculative venture into the Pacific, dropping off a party of sealers in Bass Strait before sailing to Maitia and Tahiti to trade for pork - a necessity which fetched a high price at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island. Unfortunately due to a violent and long running civil war, trade with the Tahitians proved very difficult.

    Turnbull's account goes on to describe the speculative voyage through the Pacific Islands visiting Huaheine and Ulitea where the islanders, assisted by four members of the crew attempted to capture and pirate the vessel and run it ashore. Surviving the attack, the remaining crew - assisted by a beachcomber called Pulpit and his Tahitian wife - managed to get the vessel out of the harbour and make their way to the islands of Maura, Whahoo, Attowaie, Owhyhee and other islands in the Sandwich Group trading cloth and nails for hog, pearl and turtle shell, yams, plantains, salt, and coconuts.

    Arriving back in Tahiti, Turnbull along with four of the crew remained on the island and with the aid of the missionaries procured additional cargo while Bowyers and the MARGARET continued their trading voyage through the islands heading for the pearling grounds at Maiteaa Islands.

    After an absence of two months Turnbull received news that the vessel had been wrecked at Maiteaa Islands on 17 April 1803 but the crew, having salvaged timber, nails and some of the cargo from the vessel, had constructed a small punt and were currently heading to Tahiti some 200 miles distance. On 25 September 1803 the brig DART arrived at Tahiti and brought Turnbull, Bowyers, Wood and the remaining crew members back to Port Jackson via the Friendly Islands (Tonga) arriving in the colony on 2 October 1803.

    Turnbull and Captain Bowyers remained in the colony until late February 1804 taking up residence in High Street, Sydney opposite the Hospital Wharf. Fortunately they were able to finance themselves by the profit realised by Simeon Lord selling off excess cargo from the MARGARET which had been left in the colony, along with the seal skins and oil recovered from Turnbull and Co's sealers in Bass Strait.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: A VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD IN THE YEARS 1800, 1801, 1802, AND 1804

    Web title: A voyage round the world, in the years 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803 and 1804

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